May 5, 2009 UG Uganda

At the beginning of April, Grace and I began an effort to decentralize the Kiva process at Pearl. This is the formal way of saying that we planned to visit the branches and carry out a training program that would make the Kiva process such that we would no longer be required to rip our skirts, miss spending time with our families and friends and spend 4-8 hours per day bumping along the roads of Uganda in taxis (the minibuses that Grace wrote about in a previous post).

One of...

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May 4, 2009 ID Indonesia

by Kieran Ball, KF6 & 7

“Poor people are like bonsai trees”, analogises Professor Mohammad Yunus, “Even choosing the best seed of the tallest tree, if you plant it in a small flower pot it cannot grow big. Society is the flower pot, the system we have built that keeps poor people from growing. The seed of the person is as good as the tallest tree, but we must change the system to let each person grow to their potential.”

Whilst Professor Yunus failed to mention that bonsai trees look totally hip on most coffee tables, this is still my all...

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May 2, 2009 DO Dominican Republic

-More than micro finance

by Ashley Nelsen KF 6 & 7

The power of micro finance is the social programs that leave lasting improvements within entrepreneurs lives. While working in the Dominican Republic with the MFI Esperanza I witnessed first hand the impact of such social programs. Esperanza whose social programs include business training for their entrepreneurs, a savings program, affordable health care and insurance, vocational trainings, and loans for housing improvements ensure that their clients not only improve their economic livelihood, but are better educated,...

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May 2, 2009 CM Cameroon

GHAPE – Grounded and Holistic Approach for People’s Empowerment, has three branches in Cameroon. Each branch is located in the North West Region: the capital city, Bamenda, houses GHAPE headquarters. Traveling from branch to branch, center to center, one can see the differences in landscape in Cameroon. Bamenda, a bustling city with lots of commerce is the central location for GHAPE. In Momo and Belo, the farmers reign in their small-town atmospheres.

Momo is a small, small town, equipped with a motor park for those who look to sell their produce outside the city. Home...

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May 1, 2009 CR Costa Rica

I’ve just arrived at my fourth and final placement as a Kiva Fellow.  Less than two weeks ago I was wrapping up work with ADEPHCA in Nicaragua and, following a week of whirlwind travel through southwestern Nicaragua, I arrived to start my first week with EDESA in Costa Rica.  Based on initial impressions, ADEPHCA and EDESA have very little in common other than the fact they are both identified by somewhat confusing acronyms and are both quite small organizations in the world of microfinance.  But that is where the similarities end.  ADEPHCA is based out of Bluefields, Nicaragua: a town of...

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Apr 30, 2009 PY Paraguay

There exists a daily beverage that is more omnipresent and culturally dominant than Seattle’s most famous export.  It’s a tea known as tereré and (hooray for American marketing) Paraguayans literally do not leave home without it.

Tereré is a loose-leaf tea that is always served cold.  It involves no foams, whips, or syrups, and there’s definitely no decaf.  Just mate tea, ice water, and, if you like, a mix of mint and lemongrass.  As simple as it may sound, bringing these ingredients together is much harder than saying “grande coffee, no room” to the...

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Apr 29, 2009 PE Peru

As if volleyball and soccer were not challenging enough, imagine playing these sports in long skirts, dress shoes and traditional hats that barely stay on your head in the slightest wind. I have been to and played in sports tournaments my entire life, but until last week I had never experienced a tournament like this!

As a Kiva Fellow working with the Microfinance Institution (MFI), Manuela Ramos, I have the privilege of attending not only community bank meetings, where groups of women come together to take out small loans, but also community events that are meant to empower women...

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Apr 29, 2009 SN Senegal


Over tiny cups of scalding, frothy sugar water that Senegalese people call “tea,” I have a chance daily to sit around with my fellow MFI employees and talk microfinance. The other day, I was sipping my tea with Moussa, a loan officer, and he told me about how credit is established in Senegal.  Now, in America, a credit rating is a logical thing, based on the percent of your total credit you’re using, the type, duration and size of your credits, and your...

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Apr 28, 2009 KH Cambodia

I think that most Kiva Fellows will agree that anytime we meet with Kiva Entrepreneurs we are confronted with a gauntlet of emotions from happy to sad, from inspired to depressed, from energized to drained. While for the most part, for me anyway, the experience tilts towards the positive side of things you never know who or what you are going to run into when you hop on the back of your credit officer’s moto.

I spent the beginning part of this week meeting with twenty-five Kiva Entrepreneurs and felt practically every emotion I can think of. While my first idea for this post...

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Apr 27, 2009 US United States

U.S. Microfinance 101

I hear the phrase U.S. microfinance and I perk up- I’m not alone. Last week I was at a microfinance 101 meeting in New York City. The event was catered to a group of young professionals that were interested in getting involved, somehow, in U.S. microfinance. Someone asked a question about repayment systems for U.S. microloans, wondering if borrowers come into the office to make repayments or do the loan officers go “into the field” to collect? The end goal with domestic microfinance is the same as it is internationally; empower individuals to create prosperity...

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